Vol 2: Chapter Nine – Downtown Saphestan II

“The town is yours, where do you want to go?” Cobal asked Mana.
“How about lunch?” She asked.
“Lunch sounds good actually, I know a place nearby.” Cobal led the way to a different part of town. There was a restaurant he’d gone to before with his sister a long time ago. He knew it was still in business since he walked past it just the other day.
“I hope the hearth’s on, but this time of year, I figure it will be.” They made their way inside the establishment. The door was thinner than most doors and Dylon in his full armor struggled to get through the door. Cobal and Mana took a seat near the back of the restaurant. There were a few people already there, eating, and several of them looked up at them confused when a fully armored palace guard followed two people inside. Cobal saw the hint of recognition in some of their eyes when they recognized who he was but with a guard right behind them, it wasn’t likely anyone would approach. Dylon stood behind Cobal’s chair for a moment before Cobal let out a deep sigh. “Sit down, you’re stressing me out.”
Dylon reluctantly took a seat next to Cobal, positioning himself between the prince and the rest of the room. He’d been trained well, Cobal noted to himself.
“What can I get you?” a woman in her late forties asked as she walked up to their table. Cobal ordered food for all three of them, against Dylon’s complaining that he couldn’t possibly eat while on duty. Mana laughed at the whole ordeal.
“You know, you look nothing like a prince these days,” she said.
“That’s mean, where did that come from?”
She shook her head. “No, no, it’s not meant to be mean, it’s a compliment at best. I’ve told you this before, but when I met you, you were much more regal. I bet that back then you would have had Dylon here wait right behind you, looking menacingly at everyone even thinking of looking your way.” She smiled.
“That’s not true,” Cobal rebutted, but there wasn’t much conviction in his voice.
“Well, I guess we’ll never know.” Their food arrived shortly after and they ate for a bit before resuming the conversation.
“So what do you think so far?”
“It’s a lot to take in. It’s not quite as big as some of the cities back home, but it’s fairly large.”
“There’s larger cities where you’re from?” Dylon asked, surprised.
Mana laughed. “Much, much larger.”
“That’s hard to believe.”
“It’s true. Even Amsterdam, which isn’t a large city compared to some of the massive cities in other countries, was really big. I think there were more than a million people there at times. Especially during busy parts of the year.”
Dylon looked at her suspiciously. “With all due respect, I believe you are messing with me.”
Cobal laughed. “I’ve heard her say much crazier things than this, trust me that she’s telling the truth.” He looked at Mana. “Unless you really are messing with us.”
Mana shook her head. “No, I think the biggest cities in our world have more than ten million people living in them. I never went to any of those cities though.”
“That’s crazy, how do they stop things from going out of control?”
“I imagine they don’t fully do so,” Mana said. 

“I do think it’s a nice looking city. It looks clean and there doesn’t seem to be much chaos going on here,” Mana continued. “It’s a stark contrast with the outskirts of the kingdom, where things feel much less regulated.”
It stung a little bit because Cobal knew she was right. He’d seen it as well on their journey. The capital was kept pristine and the further they got away from the capital, the less influence the royal family actually had. Most people in the countryside wouldn’t even recognize the king’s face if he walked into their town. It’s something Cobal had been thinking about a lot lately. He reckoned the same would be true for his brother and that worried him. Now that his brother disappeared though, he had bigger problems to worry about so it mostly slipped to the back of his mind and only sometimes peeked back through.
“I have another place I want to show you,” Cobal said as they were finishing up their food.
“By all means, we still have time.”
They thanked the server for the food and paid before leaving the establishment. Dylon had to go through the door sideways which made both Cobal and Mana chuckle. He then led the two to Dorgan’s Jewelry Store. The little chime on the door betrayed their entrance and Dorgan looked up from his work. “Back so soon?” he asked.
“I brought a friend this time,” Cobal replied. Dylon was staying outside for now while Cobal and Mana both entered the store.
“That the young lady you traveled with?” Dorgan asked.
Cobal nodded.
Dorgan smiled a broad smile. “Pleasure to meet you. You can call me Dorgan, I’m a jeweler by trade.”
“Nice to meet you too.” Mana replied.
“Feel free to have a look around, I have much on sale right now. Not as much as when Sel is here, but still a lot.”
“Sel?” Mana asked.
“My daughter, we run the shop together but she’s currently out.” He looked at Cobal who added. “Selvia is a friend of mine, she’s currently in Rilodar, so I’m a little bit worried about her.”
Dorgan scuffed. “She’ll be fine, we’re hardy folk.”
“That you are,” Cobal said.
They laughed. Mana looked around the shop. Eventually her eyes seemed to land on a bracelet made of silver and set with several different gemstones.
“You’ve got an eye for the arts,” Dorgan said.
“Dorgan, you say that to literally every customer you have.” Cobal said.
“It’s called running a business kid, you’ll learn about that when you get older.” He chuckled. “That is one of the bracelets that I made recently, it’s a new project. Do you see the way those bands are linked together there?” He pointed at the inside of the silver part. Mana nodded.
“That’s a new method I’ve been developing. It looks really good, right?”
“It’s pretty well made, I’m impressed.”
“Would you like me to buy it for you?” Cobal  asked.
“I don’t want to be a burden like that.”
Dorgan laughed. “The kid has more money than you and I will ever see in our lives, just take his offer and worry about it later.”
Cobal chuckled. “It’s my parents’ money, not mine.”
“Yet you still get to spend it,” Dorgan rebutted.
“I’ll buy it for you Mana, it’s no big deal for me. Besides, since you got here we’ve not really had the opportunity to earn you any of your own money, I should speak with my father about that.”
Mana nodded awkwardly. Cobal felt she wasn’t convinced and since she seemed a bit uncomfortable by the whole situation he decided not to press it. After paying Dorgan they left the small jewelry store and went for a walk.

“Is there anything else you’d like to see?” Cobal asked.
Mana thought about it for a bit. The wind was picking up and it was a bit too cold to stand here in the town square. Most of the people out and about were either working or hurrying from stall to shop to get some shelter from the wind. Cobal was starting to feel the chill as well and he was kind of hoping Mana didn’t want to hang around much longer.
“I kind of want to check out that store over there,” she said, pointing at what seemed to be a fletcher.
“I didn’t know you were an archer,” Cobal said.
Mana shook her head. “I’m not, but with all this talk of war I figure it wouldn’t hurt to have more ways to defend myself. I tried a little bit of archery back in my old world, it was considered a sport by some, so I think it might not hurt to try again.”
“Well by all means, we have equipment at the palace as well, if you’re interested?”
“I’ll keep that in mind, but I’d like to just have a quick browse.”
“Of course, let’s have a look.” Cobal wasn’t familiar with the particular store, but going indoors right now seemed like a good idea.
Inside the small fletcher were a couple of nice hunting bows on the walls as well as two tables filled with different looking arrows. In the back, working at a small workplace, was a stout looking woman. There was a hearth in the back half of the building near the workplace and while she was working you could see that sweat had started to build up. When Cobal and Mana entered she looked up from her work. “Good afternoon, how can I help you folks?”
She didn’t seem to recognize them and looked at Dylon with a bit of confusion before shrugging and ignoring it.
“Good afternoon, I’m looking for a bow that’s easy to handle for a complete beginner,” Mana said.
“Is it for yourself?” the woman asked, putting down the arrows she was working on and walking up to them.
Mana nodded.
“I can see some muscle but not nearly enough to work with some of the heavier bows. You said you’re a total beginner, have you ever held a bow before?”
Mana nodded again.
“What kind of bow was that?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied.
“Does it look like any of the ones on this wall?” She pointed at the wares hanging there.
Mana shook her head. “No, it was more technologically advanced I think.”
“I’m not sure I follow?” The woman gave Mana a confused look.
Dylon stepped forward. “Lady Mana is the hero summoned from another realm. Back in her world they have different bows.”
“Oh, you’re the hero from another world. I apologize if I were being rude.
“Don’t worry about that.”
“Could you tell me a little bit about the bows from your world, perhaps?”
Mana shook her head. “Unfortunately, archery was a sport and not a means of war where I was from. I used them once as a young girl, but never since. I can only tell you that the materials were different from what I see here, but I don’t actually know what materials they use.”
The woman looked disappointed. “That is unfortunate, I’d love to have an edge over the competition.”
“If we had that kind of information, we’d probably use it in the army first before we’d start telling stories in town,” Dylon said proudly.
Cobal chuckled. “I’m sure that’s what the logical thing would be.” He looked at Mana who was busy looking at the different bows on display. Cobal was well aware that she wanted to avoid sharing too much about her world’s technology here. She’d told him that they had weapons in her world that would be able to kill everyone in the Blueyerd kingdom in an instant. That was a terrifying thought he’d rather not have. He wondered if his world would eventually develop to that point too. Mana didn’t seem to know, but she figured it would at the very least take a little while.
While they were talking, Dylon stepped out the door for a moment. While Cobal wondered why he would go outside in this cold he came back in. “Your highness, there was a runner just now. It seems your present was wanted at the palace gate.”
“Is it important?” Cobal asked, looking at Mana.
Dylon nodded. “They say they want you there personally.”
“I don’t mind going back, I don’t want to buy a bow on a whim.” Mana looked at the lady. “But when I do buy one, I’ll be sure to come back here, don’t worry.”
“Excellent, I’d hate to not get a new customer today.”
And with that goodbye, they quickly made their way outside through the cold and back to  the palace.

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